trends

4 food trends to attract new customers

By Dawn Castell

What are Canadian diners looking for when they visit a restaurant and what trends should you add to your menu? Consumers are constantly changing their tastes as they discover new dishes and ingredients, and offering the top trends can help you get attention and up that guest experience.

To keep your restaurant current, update your menu, and grow your business, here are some of the top trends to consider.

Plant-based selections

More and more consumers are becoming aware of the health benefits of a plant-based diet to eliminate excess weight, lower their blood pressure, improve heart health, and reduce their risk of diabetes. Others are conscious of the impact that eating meat has on the environment and are looking to help lower carbon footprints and reduce their environmental impact by limiting or eliminating meat from their diets. Still, others may be apprehensive about the ethics of a meat-based diet, choosing to avoid eating meat to support their values.

Whatever the reasons consumers choose to eat more plants, you can benefit from introducing tasty plant-based dishes to your menu. Do you hesitate to make menu changes? It can be intimidating, but keep it simple by adjusting a few of your regular dishes to make it easier on the kitchen.

And once you make small adjustments, evaluate sales to see if it’s popular with your guests. Using data can help you keep up with business trends and track what your customers are ordering. You may have all the information you need in your point-of-sale app or other systems to inform your menu changes and proceed confidently.

RELATED: Adding plant-based dishes to your menu

Ube 

Are you familiar with the purple yam from the Philippines called ube? Pronounced “oo-bay,” this mild, sweet vegetable is popular in Filipino desserts. Ube is different from the purple sweet potato; it’s moist and has a vanilla-like, nutty flavour.

You can cook ube like white potatoes: boiled, mashed, baked, or fried. It isn’t always easy to find this fresh vegetable in North America, but you may find it in Asian stores in fresh or frozen form. When frozen, it’s usually mashed or grated, cooked, and ready to use.

Anything goes with ube, from ice cream to brownies – with its pretty colour and delicious taste, it’s bound to be a hit on your menu.

Heritage pasta

Many people consider refined, white-flour pasta the standard, making whole-wheat pasta a second choice – but heritage pasta is unique, featuring ingredients from its roots, using farro, chestnuts, buckwheat, or other complex grains. This nutrient-dense product complements high-quality ingredients, serving as a delicious background for simple, flavorful ingredients like olives and gorgonzola.

Planning to try heritage on your menu? Don’t forget to let your guests know (and post on your menu), as they may be unaware of something in heritage pasta, like nuts, which could cause an allergic reaction. Also, it’s important to highlight the differences in your menu and heritage pasta gives you the chance to stand out from the crowd.

Vintage desserts

Can a dish be trendy and classic at the same time? It can if it’s a vintage dessert! Some things never go out of style, and nostalgia is one of them. Diners love to re-live their youth with sweet treats, like these popular confections that keep customers returning:

  • Strawberry shortcake
  • Chess pie
  • Butterscotch pudding
  • Baked Alaska
  • Gelatin-based desserts

You can raise the bar on these comforting classics using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Your strawberry shortcake, for example, can be a seasonal dish with locally grown fruit. Make an upscale version of lemon icebox pie with fresh-squeezed lemonade. Get your guests excited by taking classic desserts to new and appealing heights and turning them into trendy, buzz-worthy dishes.

Introducing current trends to your menu can keep you on the cutting edge. While you and your customers might not be ready for a complete overhaul, you can experiment until you find what works best. Using data and customer feedback to evolve your menu, you’ll welcome new and old customers.

Dawn is a budding entrepreneur. After graduating with her MBA, she spent a few years working in the CPG industry and a few more in the business tech industry before starting her own business. She has been consulting with businesses, large and small, on the side ever since.